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and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. is first gained american attention for his series, "band of brothers." "homeland" is back for its much-
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anticipated second season. >> i would consider it an honor to work with the man who has lived among the enemy and understands them. what do you think? are you interested? >> yes. i am interested. france could news, good news. >> i need to talk to my wife and furs. >> is there a problem? >> to be -- to my wife first. >> is there a problem? >> there could be. >> i am sure you will be able to convince her. tavis: last night i am on the plane flying back to los angeles, and i am reading the issue of "the rolling stone."
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he kind of miss the mark. there were some things, but i gleaned in the article the president who says his favorite tv show is "homeland." >> and he spoke exclusively about how much he loves me. tavis: he said, i love "homeland." >> when i went to the white house, they went, maureen broke back. she was not supposed to, and she slipped into her article. the president was watching our show, and i asked him about it, because i was sitting at the same table as him at this state dinner for david cameron, and i
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said, when you guys get time to watch tv? you are supposed to be running the free world. he said michelle takes the kids out to play tennis. i do a little work at home, and sometimes i do not do so much work and i switch on the tv and watch homeland. he does not watch it with the girls. tavis: presidents need entertainment, too. >> saturday afternoon. tavis: was that your first state dinner? >> it may be my last. tavis: what did you think about the way we do state dinners? >> it was unbelievable. my wife and i looked at our table card, cable 20, and we
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said, that is ok. the revolving door will hit us repeatedly, but we sat down, and it was like a social occasion. it was very informal. once you were sat down, the tables were very mixed. i had warren buffett on my left , and the president told an interesting story about giving one of his ties because the tie torn. bit wor he gave one and said, when you have dinner with the president of the united states, you need to have a proper tie on. it was very anecdotal and clearly nothing of any national interest was going to be discussed in front of me or
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anyone else. his charisma is unbelievable. >> how did you keep your head? you set between buffett and obama. >> it was the first time in my life -- people try to pinch themselves. i pinch myself under the table literally as the president came to sit down. i was already sitting down to -- next to mr. buffett. my wife was next to the chief of staff of the armed services. i pinched my thighs. i had bruises on my thighs. >> are you a political person? >> as much as i live in a democracy and to take an interest in the right people leaving the country -- leading
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the country. when you reach a certain level, you get lobbied by whichever party is in power. you get invited to dinners, and you have to be careful. i have been careful not to nail my colors to the mast into mush -- too much. tavis: i want to come back to "homeland." now it is impossible to talk about your career without talking about "band of brothers" and how it influenced your fans statewide. what you think about that series, the work itself and what it did for your career? >> i was a needle in a haystack casting. they looked everywhere, australia, london, new york, and l.a., and if the merged i was going to be the guy to play this leader of man -- it emerged i was going to be the guy to play
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this leader of men. a lot of people did not know about it at this point. it brought to the attention the achievements of this company and major winters. this was my first time playing an american, and i played it i guess convincingly enough for people many years later to still be shocked when they would meet me and i would be speaking in an english accent, so that was gratifying, and we have reunions every year. we feel like we went to war in some way ourselves in the trenches, recreating the story. we became friendly with the veterans that were still alive,
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and there has been an unusually close bond between them and us and in turn between the actors who portrayed the story. i do not think it was anything like war -- it was not, but it was a tough shoot and an and did notithoot have an auspicious start, because the second episode came out in the week of 9-11. it was a very greedy, real depiction of war we did very greasy -- it was a very gritty, real depiction of war, and people did not want to see that. they had to work hard to generate an enthusiasm for it, which they did, and i am very lucky and very proud to be part of it. >> for those who do not know
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you're acting story, give that. >> i grew up in london, abby road, a few hundred meters from the abbey road crossing, so i am used to seeing graffiti go up on the wall every year nearby city -- every year when you're my studio. a guy painted. -- paints it. i die somewhere else -- i tag somewhere else. i had a private school education, boarding school education, and i did not go to university, where it would have been expected for me to go because it was one of those kinds of schools, but i went straight to drama school, and
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our drama schools are more like what he would call a conservatory like to the yard, -- like julliard, they are rare here, but there are more there. i performed on broadway. i have done classical theater. i've played hamlet, and i really did that for seven or eight years, and then a band of brothers happened when i was 28, 29 years old. they did not know me from adam, and that transform things for me. i was mixing film roles with these roles, and it has been like this ever since. i have worked with extraordinary people like larry freeman twice and jennifer lopez and larry and steven spielberg.
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tavis: you went from morgan freeman to steven spielberg with lo as the middleman. >> there is something about the sweatpants she wore. >> i digress from that point. for those who have not seen the show, tell us about your character. >> nicholas brady is a marine sergeant who is not in the army when 9-11 occurs. he signs up out of duty and is taken hostage and spends the next eight years of his life in captivity, and the assumption is for the first two or three years he is systematically tortured physically and mentally, and
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there is some kind of strange transition that happens when he becomes a prisoner under house arrest, and he becomes involved in this terrorist warlord family, and he becomes a tudor- like figure to his son, and he becomes a muslim, and he returns. he is found and returns to the u.s. as a hero, and everyone believes this to be true apart from this damaged cia agent played by claire danes, who things she has word he might be someone else and that he might be a danger to homeland security, and that is the premise of the show, and we discover who is right in some
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woasure, and season t will continue the injury. tavis: it is working on a number of levels. i am a huge james bond fan. i figured james bond can be blond. i guess he can also be a red head with mr. lewis, and i keep reading if there is going to be another change in the bond series, you are on the short list, so if ever offered to play james bond, would you accept? >> that is the $60 million question. if you knew how many times i have played james bond in my mirror at home, if only you knew. tavis: i think you can call it off.
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>> it is an honor to meet you. -- i think you can pull it off. >> it is an honor to meet you. tavis: john slattery is living an actor's dream playing a character on one of the most critically praised shows on television, "mad men." the drama has just wrapped up its fifth season. here is a scene from "mad men." >> where are you coming from? >> hemisphere club. >> we got good news. >> what did he say? >> we will see you monday morning. >> are you kidding me? >> you said to get you a meeting. i got you a meeting. >> you think this is a serious meeting, giving me 48 hours to prepare. >> that is up to you. do not lose your nerves.
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i like that guy. i miss him. tavis: 93 piece gray suit today. >> no, but if i knew -- no three-piece gray suit today. >> no, but if i knew i would have had a long shot, i would have worn better pants. >> you are the best dressed guy on the show. the costume dresser, you are doing a great job. >> we did some initial fittings, and they were an hour long. you try to determine bill look of the character, and i pulled all of these suits like sharkskin suit, and managett wer said no. he had a specific point of view on everything, the costumes,
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too. tavis: how much of the costuming -- this is one of those categories people do not pay attention to, but for a show like this costuming is important. >> terribly important. all of these vintage outfits, to replicate them, janie does an amazing jawbonob. they search far and wide to find this stuff. the women's clothing is unbelievable. tavis: so are the women. if we are going to shut out the clothes, we should shout out the women in the close to reaching -- to shout out the clothes, we should shout out the women in the close. is it getting darker? >> the timing is getting darker.
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people were predicting something was going to go. with amc, lionsgate, i think they wanted to cut some costs. there was news about them trying to cut characters, so people were predicting somebody was going to go. richard, the guy that went into the tower, that was featured, and pour jared harris did not make it. i guess it was a pretty dark season. tavis: let's talk about your character more specifically, as we have been talking about the show more broadly. to my mind you are the quintessential white dude of that particular era, and that is not altogether a complement, which means you are doing a good job of acting if you make me feel that way. >> yes, well --
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>> you are sexist. you are racist. >> misogynist, philandering drug. >> you love it? >> yes, it is great. i have had misgivings -- i had to sing in blackface at the country club, thinking what the hell? a lot of times he will tell the actors some stuff, whatever they need to prepare. vinnie, they shaved his hair line back, so someone said, is he going bald, and they laughed. he had to know that was going to happen, so he says to me, you are going to sing in blackface at the derby day at this country club, and i go, great, and get in the car and go home and say, what did he just say?
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that is the message -- roger is likely messenger. that is the time period. the logical guy to say have the stuff he says is me, is roger. it is great to play. there is a lot to play, and people get it. i have been worried you get a lot of grief and people go, that is the most reprehensible thing i have ever seen, but people get it. they get you move on. they do research on the derby day thing, and they said, did you think this is likely to have happened? they said, if it happened, and i would be surprised if is not still happening. tavis: fate is such an
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important thing. if i read correctly, you went to read for the dawn draper character, and you were told they already filled out, -- that, and in retrospect, what do you make of that occurrence? >> i was sent the script, and i was told it was for the role of draper, and i called my agent back and said, really? i get a part, and it is a 65- year-old grandfather, that is what i get. i thought, draper, that is an unbelievable part, so i did my homework and went in and read, and they were very serious. i walked into the room, and alan taylor who directed the pilot, and you could tell they were like, let's not screw around. let's get going, so i did my thing, and they gave me notes, and i did it again.
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when i look back, i thought, why do they keep making me do it? they thought, we have that guy already. this is the guy we want you to play. i was irritated, but i got it. there were only a couple of scenes in the pilot, so they assumed i would not come read for it, but i wanted to. they certainly do have that guy, and it was humbling actually. when i saw him i thought, i am not that guy, and i never will be. matt said, i promise you -- i was a huge plan of -- a huge fan of "the sopranos,"and he said, this will be a great part. i promise you. it was in the pilot, but there was not much. tavis: what is it that has made this show work so well for the
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audience? you laid the back story that is kind of lined up, but what made it work these last five seasons? >> it is the material. it is the actual writing. i said that recently, and matt -- i am not trying to be falsely modest. we do a great job. it is shot well. all of the designers and job.cers do a hell of a i had an acting class, and this guy would do this minor thing. somebody said, why don't you teach the events class, and he goes, you think you are advanced, and you do something else and you are not so advanced. without these scripts, we would not be so advance. these people who, it is never predictable. people predict all kinds of
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stuff, and it is shocking. those writers are great storytellers. that is it. >> it is working, and i am glad it is working. nice to meet you. i am glad you finally made it. that is our show for tonight. until next time, thanks for watching, and keep the faith. >> mr. sterling, seeing as you are dressed for fishing, you will have more success if you are quiet. >> don't be like that. >> i could not care less. >> i know why you are mad. jane is not going to take anything -- everything. >> it never occurred to me. >> because the army is taking such good care of you? you keep sending it back. >> it is a short-term solution. >> i will cover seven through
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college. >> it is better for him, and if you are not careful you will not be a family friend. >> it is not about honor. it is about the fact that we created a human life. we've made a baby. >> yes, and now it is some other lucky girls turn. scarlett? >> hello. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a look at two of the biggest music memoirs from gregg allman and carol king. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway
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to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.
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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama tapped senator john kerry today to replace outgoing secretary of state hillary clinton. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we look at this first cabinet change for the president's second term with david ignatius of the "washington post" and journalist and author james mann. >> woodruff: then, we turn back to the tragedy in newtown, connecticut, as more victims are laid to rest one week after the shootings. >> brown: speaking out for the first time since the massacre, the nra's wayne lapierre rejects

Tavis Smiley
PBS December 21, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PST

News/Business. Damian Lewis, John Slattery. (2012) Actors Damian Lewis and John Slattery. (CC) (Stereo)

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on 12/21/2012